Comics Features Film

John Hussey’s Top 10 Comic Book Movies

Written by John Hussey

I’m just going to start off by saying that when I took up this challenge I had no idea how hard it would be to narrow down my “Top 10 Favourite Comic Book Movies”. But, after much thought I managed to come up with a list. Whether or not this list is entirely accurate as my taste in things constantly changes, and I was also trying to be fair by picking films from different companies, franchises and mediums. Plus I can’t say I’m the biggest Comic-Book guy on the planet, as I barely read any form of comic (which I should do more of). But I do like Comic-Book films so let me try and convey my personal list.

Warning ahead, there will be a lot of Batman and MCU picks!

10. The Mask

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Despite deviating a lot from its original source material I’ve got to hand this film on being bloody funny and experimental with its visuals. The Mask is definitely one of Jim Carrey‘s best performances and it shows through his extreme enthusiasm and expression through the different characters he plays, as well as being able to express himself through the make-up.

The plot is quite straight forward in which it has its protagonist, Stanley Ipkiss, find a mystical mask created by the God of Mischief Loki. From there his life goes on a wild roller-coaster ride as the mask transforms him into a cartoonish character with many different whacky abilities. On the way he manages to interfere with the plans of wannabe crime-boss Dorian Tyrell and gets himself into a bit of bother, whilst also trying to win the heart of Tina Carlyle.

It’s fair to say that this film shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and that’s what I like about it. It’s a simple story filled with great laughs as you watch Carrey take the role to different levels of absurdity as he constantly changes form to suit the comedy of the scene. We even at one point have Stanley’s dog, Milo, wear the mask and become a crazy Jack-Russell from Hell. I also like how it shows the mask’s capabilities of releasing the inner-person, making Stanley a supernatural lover-boy whilst it makes Dorian an unstoppable demonic creature of pure evil.

9. Blade II

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The first film, which I saw after viewing the second, is a great story but I’ve always had a soft spot for Blade II, probably because of nostalgic reasons (and the less we speak about Blade: Trinity the better). I liked the idea of having a virus that actually mutated Vampires into a new hybrid that fed on the blood of their own kind, as well as humans. Also the villain of Jared Nomak proved to be a decent villain (though not as entertaining as Deacon Frost) and came with some interesting revelations but he was mostly generic and there to have some really epic fight scenes with Blade.

Of course Blade is a complete badass throughout and Wesley Snipes just knew how to portray his different layers, whether it be his quick sense of humour, his internal struggle, or his utter hatred for Vampires. And I really do love the scene when he recovers from his injuries, after jumping into a pool of blood, and then taking out an entire room full of Familiars. Plus his unique chemistry with Whistler (Stephen Dorff) is a great addition to the ongoing series. And then there was the realisation years later that Norman Reedus was in this film, and he tried to betray Blade only to get himself blown up (love that scene – “It’s not a dud”).

8. The Dark Knight

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Hands down the best live-action Batman movie, and the best of Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Trilogy. The narrative shows the great burden of being a symbol of hope in a time of pure desperation and chaos. We see our heroes, Batman, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent, tested to the absolute limit as the narrative challenges their morals.

What I, and everyone else, loves most about The Dark Knight is Heath Ledger‘ Joker. He nailed this role and really delivered a definitive movie interpretation of the character, ranking just below Mark Hamill. His laugh, his creepy smile, his twisted origin tales, even down to his mesmerising performance, and fantastic reasoning for doing the things he does. The Joker is the true headlining act of this film and for good reason. I could watch this film over and over just to watch Ledger’ Joker. It’s simply sad that The Dark Knight Rises practically erases his existence and makes The Dark Knight near enough irrelevant within the trilogy (a topic I may talk about one day).

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

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This film is a brilliant movie and really showed that Marvel Studios can produce a variety of different genres within their super-hero universe, with this film in particular taking the huge gamble of taking the series into space. And by heck did it pay off, allowing such films as Ant Man and Doctor Strange and all their whacky aspects become acceptable as a movie-goer.

Guardians has a group of extraordinary characters, each with their own trait and backstory to tell and you sit through the film to watch their journey. Like Avengers Assemble, you enjoy the narrative mostly because of the team-up and how these different, and estranged, characters can possibly form an alliance. But as for the story itself, it’s not exactly original and the villain isn’t anything we haven’t seen before but it does certainly use these elements well and creates a unique universe that you wish to delve into. Above all the film is just a massive bit of fun from start to finish.

6. Batman: The Killing Joke

the-joker-2This film is based upon one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. Shame the first 28 minutes decided to focus on a Batgirl subplot that neither went anyway, nor added to the actual feature we came to see. Worst of all it demeans Batgirl’s character and also adds in a romantic story which derives a Batman tale into a cheap teen drama. And what where the filmmakers of the film thinking when they added in Bat-sex?

The actual main feature, however, was a great experience. They practically mirrored the panels of the graphic novel perfectly. Plus they got Kevin Convoy and Mark Hamill back to play their respective roles and delivered a fantastic performance as per-usual. I always enjoy the tragedy of The Joker’s journey, especially in how we discover how he possibly became the Clown Prince of Crime. That and his desperation to try and prove to the world that everyone is one bad day away from becoming like him.

Of course this tale is mostly remembered for Commissioner Gordon being tortured and Batgirl being crippled but I think the best aspect is the final confrontation between The Joker and Batman. The fact that these two iconic characters can go from trying to kill one another, to then talking like old friends, before exchanging laughter after a joke all in one scene is just absolute brilliance, and a complement to their unique chemistry. Plus I really do love Hamill’s interpretation of “I Go Looney”!

5. Avengers Assemble

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Like Guardians, Assemble is a film about the characters with the rest becoming a nice piece of spectacle. The final act isn’t anything new and has become something of a generic trope within Superhero movies. But to see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury brought under one banner was a dream come true and it was a fantastic journey watching these characters come together, through both comical moments and the nice touching character moments.

It’s especially interesting when you consider how it changed both Captain America and Iron Man, resulting in the slow progression that eventually led to Captain America: Civil War. This film started the journey (particularly the slow burner that is Thanos) and there’s a lot to thank it for. Also how can one forget about Tom Hiddleston and his performance as Loki?

4. Bleach: DiamondDust Rebellion

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I absolutely love Bleach and has become my favourite manga/anime. So naturally I felt it necessary to add one of the film’s to this list and so I went with DiamondDust Rebellion. I like how the narrative explores Toshiro Hitsugaya’s origins (though the manga would eventually make these events non-canon). It’s certainly a touching story that gives us more depth to his character and goes about to explain his icy persona.

Also the villain, Sōjirō Kusaka, is a great addition, especially because of his personal connection to Hitsugaya. They were friends back at the Soul Reaper Academy that just so happened to receive the same Zanpakuto and were cruelly made to battle in order to see who was the rightful master. Kusaka is killed after Hitsugaya wins the battle, with Kusaka returning (with the help of the mystical Oin) to claim his vengeance. The film comes full circle when the two Soul Reapers have to battle again and in a saddening moment their friendship is mended, and the emotional journey of the narrative is given a satisfying conclusion.

3. Deadpool

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Deadpool is a fantastic character in the way that he’s totally insane, constantly breaking the fourth wall, is a total badass, whilst also being rather unpredictable. So to get his own movie, starring the amazing Ryan Reynolds, was a reward in itself. Strictly this film isn’t very different from your average superhero movie and can appear rather bland within its narrative but when it comes to the characters and the structure of the film’s development that’s when things get really interesting.

Deadpool does great at keeping to his characters’ source material and understanding how he ticks, translating him perfectly to the big screen, with Reynolds clearly having a blast in every scene he is in. The way that Deadpool tells the story, constantly adds in his wonderful sense of humour, the fact the narrative flips between the present and the past, whilst having the correct rating to do whatever it wants really goes a long in explaining why this film is a near masterpiece. Clearly it’s a superhero movie made for comic-book fans and the biggest shock is it wasn’t made by Marvel Studios (FOX can actually produce good superhero movies OMG!)

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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This is definitely still my favourite instalment within the Captain America trilogy. I know Civil War had a lot going for it but I feel that it was too focused on the wrong things and didn’t fully feel like a Captain America movie because of everything going on. The Winter Soldier remains a better film because of its focus, clear continuation of the previous instalment (and even making that a priority to the ongoing story), its attention to character development and friendships, along with how the film pretty much changed the course of the MCU.

I really loved the tone, pacing and style of this film, in particular the development of Captain America and his acceptance of the modern world, and what he now represents. It was a crucial transition that was merely touched upon in Assemble and now he began to realise that the government he once blindly followed could no longer be trusted and he had to make his own decisions to win the war.

Also the idea that S.H.I.E.L.D. was now compromised by Hydra was a truly terrifying concept. I really enjoyed the whole nature of the film, and the political ideas, to which point you questioned whether or not Hydra are truly evil with their intentions (despite the obvious sign that the members of Hydra were portrayed as straight-up villains). And one can not forget the Winter Soldier himself, Bucky Barnes, who really does shine in all his scenes, particularly in the final act when he is confronted by Captain America and is forced to remember who he was, adding in some well constructed character development between these two characters.

1. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

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The concept of Batman Beyond was terrific in expanding the universe of Batman: The Animated Series into the future, with Terry McGinnis taking over the mantle of Batman after Bruce Wayne. But Terry is faced with his greatest challenge when The Joker returns to Gotham and this terrifies old-man Bruce, to the point where he tries to keep Terry out of the battle.

I really do love this tale as it stands an important chapter for developing Bruce’s character and his relationship with The Joker. This is shown perfectly through a flashback scene where we see how their battle originally ended after The Joker crossed the line and attempted to corrupt Robin in order to push Batman to the limit, resulting in his own death. This story is taken further through the twisted, psychological methods The Joker manages to return and it’s great to see how this plays out through his interactions with the older versions of The Animated Series‘ characters.

Also it’s great to see Terry prove himself to Bruce, and Gotham City, in becoming a new version of Batman that is both different and true to Bruce’s incarnation. I think what I love about this story is how it challenges the audience and the characters involved, taking the unique Joker and Batman chemistry to new terrifying heights and this worked wonders for Convoy and Hamill in establishing a new version of their iconic roles.

And so that’s my personal list of favourite superhero movies but don’t take my list so literally, especially since I could change this in a week’s time because my brain constantly changes its preferences depending on what kind of mood I’m in. So, yeah, that’s why my list might seem to be all over the place – so I do apologise in advance (sort of). Anyway, you know the drill, feel free to tell us your own Top 10 Comic Movies in the comments or on Twitter!

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John Hussey

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